Pepsi Pakistan’s latest marketing stunt for Pepsi Zero Sugar during PSL matches seems to have backfired terribly. Their CGI ad of a helicopter dropping a Pepsi Zero can into the stadium has landed them in hot waters, with the comments section quickly filling with hate! A fun thing to note is that Pepsi’s official page doesn’t even allow comments.

The decision to disable comments on their video raises a critical question, if Pepsi is not confident enough in their product to face even constructive criticism or they think the timing is not right, why launch it at all? “Baad mein karlete bro!”

Here’s the video

The public’s outrage is not totally surprising. Considering the current political landscape, with tensions high and emotions simmering, It was quite predictable that “#boycottpepsi” would be the top comment on pages that posted this video, and some people even pushed the envelope and bad-mouthed the pages who posted it. However, it is surprising how Pepsi didn’t see this coming and was naive enough to post something like this.

One can’t help but wonder whether Pepsi was fully unaware of the possible negative responses. It’s as if Pepsi has been living under a rock, oblivious to many companies going through similar criticism for poorly timed marketing campaigns. Who exactly suggested the Pepsi team to create a new look and then reveal it in such a manner?

It leaves one wondering if this “new look” will change anything for them in terms of sales and consumer sentiment. With the kind of response they received, it is safe to say that their sales are not increasing any time soon (they’ll have to struggle more in competing against their rival soda drink, which has captured more than half of the market), and this little stunt might push more people to turn against the brand. So much for ‘new branding’.

Also, Pepsi seems to be lagging behind the marketing curve. This whole using CGI trend has now been done and dusted. Many other brands have already dipped their hands in this trend with more creativity. It was during the last year when we saw brands indulging in this type of marketing. Now, Pepsi, for launching Pepsi Zero with a “New Look,” took a not-so-new approach!

At least this fiasco teaches that staying relevant in the recent social media environment requires more than just dropping a can from the sky. It demands a genuine understanding of the world around us, and a little more consciousness won’t hurt anyone.

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